Sanders: Budget Suffers Under the Weight of Coronavirus
State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Rochdale Village, Far Rockaway) and his Majority Conference colleagues, along with Governor Cuomo, passed a $177 billion budget that he believes has some positive components but unfortunately fails to build upon the progress that was made last year, due to many issues being derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“This virus has affected all aspects of society and the legislature is no different,” Sanders said. “It has weakened the budget in many ways, but we still took many positive steps forward given the circumstances. This is a situation, under which none of us has had to work before. We were building the plane as we were flying and under those conditions, the results can be classified as satisfactory.”
However, Sander said the state budget does provides much needed emergency relief to help New Yorkers get through the coronavirus pandemic with support for healthcare, struggling families and protection for vital services. This aid includes:
- Paid Quarantine Leave for those exposed to the virus
- Immediate unemployment insurance for workers who lost their job during the pandemic
- Restores Medicaid and hospital funding that was proposed to be cut
- Guaranteed Sick Leave of at least 5-7 days for all employees
- Increased Unemployment Insurance funding by $1.05 billion
- Added $9.8 million to address an anticipated increase in workers compensation claims spurred by COVID-19
- Added almost $3.5 million in statewide and local economic development programs
- Kept MTA subway, bus, and commuter rail services running with access to emergency loans to offset revenue losses and increased costs caused by COVID-19.
- Protected our schools from budget cuts despite a multi-billion dollar state deficit caused by COVID-19
Meng on Board With Legislation for Coronavirus Relief Payments to Immigrants
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) helped introduce legislation last week that would provide coronavirus relief payments to millions of immigrants and immigrant families who are currently ineligible to receive these critical funds.
Last week, Congress passed and the President signed into law the third COVID-19 relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748). The measure will provide checks of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child to help many taxpayers with the financial burden they are experiencing due to the coronavirus crisis.
But the bill only allows the money to be sent to those who file their taxes with a Social Security number, leaving immigrants who use an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) with nothing.
Under the proposed legislation entitled the Leave No Taxpayer Behind Act, tax filers with ITIN numbers would be eligible to receive these payments.
“The CARES Act had many good and crucial provisions in it to help working families affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Meng. “Unfortunately, excluding millions of working immigrants who use ITIN numbers was not one of them. Although the House Democrats’ Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act would have allowed payments to those with ITIN numbers, it was unfortunately not included in the Senate’s CARES Act which was the version that was ultimately passed and enacted into law.
“Just like millions of American citizens, working immigrants, and mixed-status families, are falling on hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They too have bills to pay and loved ones to support. And many immigrants fortunate to still have a job are among the essential employees who are risking their health and safety by working on the frontlines during this outbreak. We must immediately right this wrong and help our hard-working immigrant communities receive this needed assistance. In addition to this bill, I will be fighting for this issue in Congress’ fourth coronavirus relief package. No family should be left behind in the relief and recovery efforts. After all, the coronavirus does not distinguish immigration status – neither should our federal response,” she added.
Gillibrand Calls For Investigation Into Removal of Navy Captain
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Committee, joined a group of 17 senators calling on the acting Department of Defense Inspector General Glenn Fine to conduct a formal investigation into troubling reports about the COVID-19 outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the subsequent decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of his command.
Crozier was removed days after he sent a letter up the chain of command expressing concern with the Navy’s response. Given the extraordinary circumstances of Capt. Crozier’s removal, the senators are demanding a closer examination.
“This situation is deeply concerning,” said Gillibrand. “No one should be punished for speaking up to protect our service members, especially when we know how critical swift and deliberate action is to combatting this pandemic. We must get answers from the inspector general about the Navy’s preparedness and response to this growing emergency. The health and safety of our sailors depends on it.”